Everyone in the Internet business will tell you that the shorter your the domain name is, the better. You want it to be easy to remember, and the less characters there are involved, the higher the odds that will happen. In the business of URL shortners, this is even more important because you want it to take up as little space as possible in a Tweet. To this end, companies have flocked to the .ly domain extension which is supposed to represent domains from the country of Libya: It was a short extension, you could make cute names with it (bit.ly, ow.ly) and you could get the precious short domain names.
URL shortners in particular fell in love with this domain extension, but as of today, all of that may be changing. Vb.ly, a URL shortner run by well-known sex writer Violet Blue, was shut down by the Libyan government for violations of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law according to ReadWriteWeb.
According to a letter sent to Violet Blue by a representative of Libya Telecom and Technology, the takedown was based solely on the type of content her service linked to. According to the note, “had your domain merely been a URL shortener for general uses similar to bit.ly (as you claim) there would have been no problem with it.” Apparently the above picture of Ms. Blue showing bare arms, and holding a beer, was also deemed “offensive” under Libyan law.
While this has led some to believe Bit.ly and Ow.ly may suffer similar fates, that is not clear as of yet. As they are more general URL shortners, they may be safe, but some conspiracies are swirling now that Libya is trying to take back any .ly domain names that use only one, two or three letters in their name so that they can be used by companies inside the country.
This may be the end of the story, or it may not be, only time will tell and if we see any other sites shut down.
What say you? Was Libya right for shutting down vb.ly? Should other sites be worried?